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Two full days later I think I can write this down now.

Thursday – GP practice – visit the nurse for the dreaded 5-yearly test I am now supposed to call NHS cervical screening. They don’t use the word ‘smear’ any more apparently. Has there been a smear campaign against it perhaps? (Sorry.)

Corona times mean I have to ring the intercom at the front door and am then directed to a side entrance where I am instructed to wait at a different door where the nurse will come to collect me. It’s outside but under cover. There are no seats. I’m basically alone in the bike-and-pram-shelter to ponder what happens next.

Ten minutes later she opens the door and sticks a thermometer thingy in my ear. I pass. Dammit.

The next ten minutes are a blur, but I do recall some friendly chit-chat, some disrobing, more chit-chat, some searing pain, some screaming, a request to ball my fists and stick them under the small of my back (which meant removing my left hand which was inadvertently clamped over my masked mouth in a vain attempt to stifle the screams), further pain, an announcement that all was done, some re-clothing (hopefully in some semblance of presentability), more chit-chat and a shuffling out of the side door.

I cry – proper crying – all the way home. Keep my mask on and it starts to rain. Don’t think anyone notices the state of me.

Why is this so bloody awful? Every time. (Although I had persuaded myself that last time had been better – I think I must have muddled that up with some other undignified experience where I had better scream-control.)

Look on the bright side. At least I didn’t faint.

And on balance, of course testing is better than the possible alternative…

Apparently I will be called for one more of these before I am deemed too old to bother. Can’t wait.


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